Your business is not what you thought

If I asked you “what’s your business sell?” you’d probably tell me (with much excitement too) all about your products or services, and you’d be wrong.

You are in fact selling an experience.  Irrespective of what you think you’re selling, or how you believe this “doesn’t apply to your industry”, I assure you everyone is buying an experience (and they don’t even know it).

Let’s take something that is rather dull, boring, necessary and regularly bought on price.  How about car insurance?  Unlike a movie at Gold Class Cinemas, insurance is not something I typically shop for based on experience.

So how can I make this claim?  Simple, what do people share with their friends and family after purchasing car insurance (or anything)?  It could be how great the staff were, how quick the service was, how much they saved, or just about anything, even negative comments.  The one common thread though, whatever they say, will always be based on their experience.

It’s easy to show how a shopper who pays more for brand loyalty or high quality service is after an experience, so let’s assume our mystery shopper was buying on price.  They have no interest in anything but getting the best possible price.  How are they buying an experience?

Without going in to the psychology of it, when a bargain hunter get’s a good deal, watch their face as they share with you the story about how they saved so much money.  They will at the very least smile, their heart rate will probably increase slightly, their cheeks may become flushed and even their eyes could dilate.  What you are witnessing, is them re-living the experience and how much they loved (or hated) that experience.

It is our job as business owners (and marketers) to ensure every one of our customers gets to experience a highly memorable purchasing experience every time, so that they will revisit and share it with others again and again.

It’s worse than we thought!

I read in the Herald Sun today (Wednesday 8th August 2013) , that an “Average 44 Small Businesses closing their doors each day, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data”.

That’s 2 per hour, or if we assume they can only close during the business hours of 9am-5pm (fair enough), that’s 5.5 businesses closing their doors every single hour, or 1 every 11 mins.  So while you sneak 10 minutes for lunch today, one of your fellow struggling business owners will be shutting their doors for the last time.  And by 5pm tonight there will be another 44 businesses gone forever.

Now let’s talk about what’s NOT being said…

Even though right across Australia people are talking about job cuts and company wide losses, the total number of small businesses in this country is continuing to climb.  This increase in competition at a time of reduced spending, cheap imports and online purchases, is putting a huge strain on the already existing businesses, as new start-ups attempt to gain grown.

Aiding these new businesses is modern technology, fresh approaches to marketing, ultra cheap outsourcing and the almost unstoppable passion of starting a new venture – do you remember your first day.  That means existing businesses have now got more competition than yesterday and will have even more tomorrow.

This ‘global recession’ will leave the last ones standing being the victors.  ‘Local company, global presence’ means only the smart marketers will survive, the ones who care more about their customers than their profit dollar.  Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth will be the draw cards in this brave new world.

Who will survive?


Written by: Ross Pepper.

Nothing like a bit of short notice

I’ve just returned from presenting 20 minutes on the 7 Step Marketing Formula to a room full of small business owners for the Kingston City Councils Business Showcase.  What an honor to be able to share with them, the first essential step to any successful marketing campaign.  I hope you took away plenty of value!

P.S. I got less than 24 hours notice! 🙂

Thanks again for your wonderful participation everyone.

City of Kingston Council’s Business Showcase
Ross Pepper presenting the 7 Step Marketing Formula

The Biggest Problem Faced by Small Business Owners Today

A couple of weeks ago, to a LinkedIn business group I posed the question “What do you think is the biggest problem faced by Small Business Owners today?”   Yesterday I returned from holidays to see a stream of responses and what I learned was fascinating.

In the beginning I was monitoring the responses day by day and answering each one individually, it was easy to ‘buy-in’ to their stories and how everyone had perceived their own personal challenges.  During that first two weeks I struggled to see many consistent issues, let alone the one biggest problem.

Then I went away on holidays and when I returned a week later I was reading the new contributions as one long conversation.  It was then that something happened, I discovered what was REALLY going on… THE ONE BIG PROBLEM!

It wasn’t an external problem that could be ‘fixed’ with a bit of training or a nifty little tool, it was an internal problem and it was going to take some work.

The biggest problem faced by Small Business owners is their inadequate critical thinking, which typically shows up as a lack of focus, or poorly placed focus.  Examples of this include:

  1. No goals (or KPIs)
  2. No clear mission or purpose (overall and/or task based)
  3. Time wasting (lack of action, or focusing on the wrong thing)
  4. No systems
  5. No criteria for success

The first step to success is to lead yourself to victory.  If you’re not currently achieving ALL your goals, then you need to figure this out before anything else!  If your first response is “not more goals” or some similar complaint, I have one thing to ask… “How’s that working out for you?”

I’m not going to sit here and remind you how great goals are, or tell you again about the Harvard study, or remind you of what you already know.  You’re reading this because you need to do it, not read about it again, but do it!  And not just do it again the same wingy old way you always have, but to embrace it.  This goals process must become a part of who you are, if it has any hope of lasting past the end of the week.  And it needs to last if it is going to transform your results.  Do you get that?

So lets GET RESULTS AND HAVE SOME FUN, shall we?  🙂

Decide where you are going to write your goals.  It must be highly visible so you can read it regularly while you’re achieving it.

Write down your first goal.  Make it something easy and make it something fun.  How about, “have my favourite meal for dinner tonight”.  That sounds like a goal I can sink my teeth in to, now I could definitely go for that!

From there, slowly increase the difficulty of each goal.  Add more and make some multi-day goals. You are now reaching a point where you’re so focused and intentional you’ll barely recognise yourself, and your impressive results.

How are you going to finish the year this quarter?

Did you know today is the 1st day, of the last quarter for the year?

It’s not 3 months till Christmas, it’s 3 months till next year!!

So what 3 projects are you going to undertake to bring it home for you this year?  What 3 things are going to have the biggest impact for your business?

  • Update your website?
  • Run a presentation?
  • Deliver a fresh new marketing campaign?
  • Explore new ways to WOW your customers?
  • Or something else?

Wouldn’t you agree, the worst problem we could ever have is the same problem we had 12 months ago!

Is there something you need to change, start doing, or do differently?  Right now!

To help you get the juices flowing, I thought I’d share with you what will be receiving my focus, as we close out the year for 2013.

My 3 projects are:

  • Joint Ventures – Adding value to other peoples clients
  • Mini 8 Week Marketing Program – Fast implementation, low cost, high return
  • Power Coaching – Highly affordable 1-on-1, weekly business coaching sessions 15-20 minutes

Joint Ventures
My joint ventures are about reaching out to add value to other B2B business owners, by adding value to their clients.  Not enough business owners think of new ways to wow their customers.  I run regular webinars and have begun seeking opportunities for non-clients, to attend some of these sessions.

Mini 8 Week Marketing Program
This mini marketing program, is designed to take the busy business owners from hit-and-miss marketing, to a single targeted customer income stream.  By doing this, they can now put the focus back on the customers.

Power Coaching
Time-poor or financially stretched?  Power Coaching is all about affordable, high-performance coaching.  Short, highly structured coaching sessions including accountability, goal achievement and NLP mindset shifts.  These highly focused 15-20 minute weekly coaching sessions build momentum, clarity and results, quickly!

By working on one of these each month for the remainder of the year, I will have all of these implemented before Christmas. 

The impact this will have on my mission to “Empower the Success Rate of Small Business Owners in Australia”, is significant.

What 3 projects are you going to embrace during the last quarter of this year, to have significant impact on your mission?!

What’s About To Happen To The Internet?

Did you know the Domain name market is about to blow wide open??

gTLD or ‘Generic Top Level Domains’ (like the .com at the end), are about to have near infinite options!

With gTLDs likes:

Check them out online, just type “gTLD” in Google or go to your service provider.

I use Crazy Domains and they have a search filter here. Type the domain name, press Enter and then click the ‘All Domains’ button for the complete list.

You have got to see this!!

If you can’t pre-register the one you want, try a different provider, they may let you?  It’s not a commitment to buy, just an expression of interest and first refusal based on request order.

How to Deal With Interruptions and Focus-Stealing Activities

I’ve come up for air to let you know there is something coming, something so big and so brilliant that it could transform the entire business coaching industry!

Much like a duck on the pond, I’ve been seemingly quiet, but underneath the surface I’ve been paddling like mad. 🙂

While I was putting it all together, I noticed I was suffering a disturbing trend of constant interruptions and focus-stealing activities.  So I went back to the drawing board to create a solution.

In fact it go so bad that on Monday at 8am, the very moment I completed my schedule for the day and stood up to take action on my first task… the phone rang and I lost 15-20 minutes right then and there, before I’d even touched my first task!  That was the last straw, I needed a solution and I need it NOW!

This is what I came up with:

  • Break the day in to 15 minute actions.
  • Use multiple slots for larger tasks.  Try to avoid breaking up a task, time is lost in transition.
  • Allocate 15 mins to each planned phone call.  This creates a buffer and allows time for follow-up actions and miscellaneous tasks like toilet breaks and refreshments.
  • If you have lots of phone calls to make, group them together to save time.
  • For incoming phone calls, use the buffer, or reschedule.
  • Be clear about how long you have for a call.
  • Turn of all programs, close website tabs and anything that may distract you.  Bookmark and shortcut everything you need to keep.
  • Allocate time to ‘distractions’ like social media, but only if you are using it for marketing.  Be clear about the actions you will take when using it.
  • If you are in an environment with other workers, give them access to your schedule, so they can book time with you or know when you’re available.  Including when you read emails.
  • Keep allocated time late in the day for unplanned tasks and call-backs.
  • Keep a record of how long each task takes.  This will help for future planning.
  • Keep a note of what you actually spend time on, if its outside the allotted task.
  • Only write actions as tasks.  If brain storming is required, that is the action you schedule.
  • For recurring tasks, add them to the original and block out that time.
  • Disperse fun and energising actions with challenging and less exciting ones.
  • Consider having a reward scheduled in for completing the day’s actions on time (and as a buffer).
  • Allocate time at the end of every day to review the day, and create tomorrow’s schedule.

Using this method makes moving weekly actions, in to this daily schedule really simple.  It allows for unexpected interruptions and a method for dealing with them effectively.  By having action based tasks prioritised like this, it also means that you do what’s important before what’s fun, with just the right mix to keep your day energised and active.  You’re in control and you get to experience the perfect balance of focus, achievement and results.

Reward time can be very important to some people and a great incentive to encourage the completing tasks on time (or even early).  One of my mentors works on 1 hour cycles.  She works for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of ‘me time’.  That way they sprint to complete the allocated task and have a really indulgent 15 minute break every hour.  They spend that time relaxing with family, on the porch, doing some yoga or having a cup of tea.  One of my clients has a clock on his PC that reads out the time to him through the speakers, so he can easily track his day.

You can have fun playing with this structure if you like, but choose a method that works for you and stick to it.  This is not a once-off, it’s a way of life; because Failing to plan IS planning to fail.


Click to get a copy of the sheet I use Day in 15 min increments.